On a recent episode of his 83 Weeks podcast, former WCW president Eric Bischoff discussed his strained relationship with Ric Flair. Flair has said that he was treated poorly during his second run with WCW while Bischoff led the company.
Bischoff discussed how tough of a transition it was for Flair to move from feuding with Hulk Hogan over the world heavyweight championship in the main event to feuding with Konnan over the United States title. Bischoff said Flair's age combined with the monumental rise of the nWo is what pushed him further down the card. He explained that it was simply time for fresh faces to be leading the WCW, but he admitted that he could've handled the situation with a little more class.
"I don't regret decisions I have made. I don't regret choices I have made, because you make them in the heat of the battle and with all of the information with the tools that you have in your disposals at the moment, but I do regret sometimes, and till this day, the way I acted. I say I regret it because it would have been so easy to approach things a different way that would have probably had a different or better result, but I didn't, and for that I do regret some of the things that I did. I think one of the things that I did that I do regret--it's not taking the emphasis off of Ric Flair because nobody can stay at the focal point indefinitely," Bischoff said. "I don't care if you are Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, I don't care if you are John Cena, whoever you are, if you have been in that position for a while, especially for a long, long time, you need to take that spotlight off and you need to find a way to create the 'absence makes the heart grow fonder,' for you. You can't constantly stay on top of a program. That is what was going on.
"Obviously, in 1996 things had shifted dramatically towards the nWo. That was where all of the spotlight was being put and Flair didn't fit at that time in that particular timeline of that story. It wasn't Ric's time. He was obviously important, and didn't want the audience to forget about him or want to marginalize him to be a key part in WCW and still get a lot of television time, but was he at the top spot? No, he wasn't. I don't think that was necessarily a bad choice - again, at that time. However, how I went about it pretty much sucked and reflected a lack of maturity on my part as well as sensitivity, which is the one thing that I do regret."
Bischoff also discussed the time he made a speech to the WCW locker room and declared that Flair was no longer a top draw while Flair was sitting there. Bischoff admitted that he regrets that moment and he should've been better at managing the ego of one his top stars.
"I remember after saying it, I remember thinking, s**t, that's not good. I said it. I am not going to deny it. Here is why I am hesitating. I can tell you why I said what I said, but for the most part I was accurate. NWA went out of business. They went into bankruptcy. People can point fingers in a million directions as to why but it is a fact. They went into bankruptcy, which was where Ted Turner bought them. Oh, by the way, WCW before I got there was losing money. WCW when I was there was losing money, so my point in that speech probably should have been stated to something along the lines of, 'Look guys, you may not like what is going on. You may not like where the focus is going, but guess what? This is the first time we really have made any money,'" he said. "Now, the fact that I pointed to Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage while Ric Flair was sitting there, I should have been smarter and better at managing talent because managing talent is not like managing any other commodity; they are people and have feelings and egos. If they are a performer they are performer because they are driven by their ego, which comes with that a huge amount of pride. When you kick them in the balls like I did in that speech, I 'kicked' Ric Flair in the balls. I didn't mean to, I was trying to make a point which I did in a very horrible way and with others. Arn Anderson had heard the same thing, there was a lot of guys there that should have taken exception on the point I was trying to make and I had done it. Not going to make any excuses for it. I did it."
If any portion of these quotes are used, please be sure to credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.